The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) has stated that recently published Central Statistics Office (CSO) data on food price and income changes since Ireland joined the European Economic Community in 1973 proves the benefits of CAP to consumers.

The CSO figures show that the public now spends proportionally less of their income on food than they did in 1973.

INHFA president Vincent Roddy said that this was a testament to the importance of farm supports to maintaining affordable food on shelves.

“While CAP was first introduced in 1962 to ensure Europe had enough food and recognised the need to support farmers as an essential component in the delivery of this, it has since developed into ensuring food is affordable for everyone,” Roddy commented on the CSO data.

“Here we see close to a thirty-fold increase in the average income since 1973 and while the price of food has increased, the rate is less than one third of this.

“On the back of this, we have also seen a major reduction in the level of household income spent on food – reducing from an average of almost 40% in 1973 to 8% of current income.”

Roddy put this drop in the proportion of income spent on food mostly down to farm supports, which can allow food prices to remain low.

“While improvements in technologies and increased mechanisation have played a part, there is no doubt, the stability CAP supports provided has been a critical element in the subsidisation of food and improved living standards.

“We must recognise how CAP isn’t just an income support for farmers, but is also a critical element that has helped to underpin economic activity across western society, and in doing so has helped to fund the social and healthcare services that are an integral part of our society,” Roddy continued.

The INHFA leader warned that the CAP budget in its current form is “incapable of delivering affordable quality food” and delivering on environmental challenges.

“While the current budget is in place until the end of 2026, it is vital that the EU and all governments recognise the enormous challenge and unfair burden they are placing on farmers.”